Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Fwd!

I've talked about time and timing before but I wanted to bring it up again now because we're about to "lose" an hour. Daylight savings is kicking in early again. We are springing forward before Spring actually arrives. So how did they actually keep time back in the ancient day? Sundial? landmarks? Birds and other animals?

How about the water clock! I first learned about this when I read Lysistrata. There is a scene in which a husband is trying to entice his wife into a semi-public quickie and says they can ritually bathe after using the water clock. :-o Water clocks have been found around the world, with the oldest surviving one found in Egypt. Wiki, as usual, covers the basics.

Ever hear of the Antikythera Mechanism? It doesn't seem to be a clock,  but is an eclipse predictor, calendar, times the olympic games, shows planetary positions. It's the worlds first analog computer and dates back to around 100 bce. It's incredibly fascinating and it just might have come from Sicily. Syracuse was a Greek colony on the island and the home of Archimedes. He was said to have invented several devices to predict celestial positions and events. Here's a video of the modern research done and computer models of what they believe it looked like. It more interesting than the official paper but might be a bit long for those with limited attention spans!

Speaking of attention spans.... squirrel! That's all for tonight. Time to unwind from the week. That wasn't intended to be a clock pun, but there you have it.

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